Monday, May 2, 2011 Agency in private hospital birth offer

Agency in private hospital birth offer

A mainland agency said it could arrange for mainland women to give birth in private hospitals in Hong Kong even if there were no official slots available, an investigation by a political party has revealed.

Nearly all private hospitals in the city are fully booked after the government announced that mainland women would be banned from giving birth in public hospitals this year.

But the agency said "extraordinary slots" could be arranged if parents were willing to pay a booking fee.

A female staff member of a Guangzhou agency said they could arrange deliveries in mid-October if parents were willing to pay an extra 50,000 yuan (HK$59,715).

But under this arrangement, women could give birth only via Caesarean section so that the  exact birth date could be planned, she said. "You won't be able to secure a slot if you ask the hospital officially, but we can find one for you," she said.

She was speaking to Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong member Danny Chan Chung-cheung, who spoke to her as part of an "undercover" mission.

Chan visited the agency's office in Guangzhou and was introduced to a male agent. Feigning another identity, Chan also made calls to a female agent of the same company.

He called the two agents in front of reporters yesterday morning. Both told him to pay 10,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan extra as there was a shortage of beds in Hong Kong.

"Some people have booked beds in hospitals but did not show up.

"We have ways to make these empty beds to be sold to us," the female agent said.

She added that all the Hong Kong doctors they co-operated with were specialists who had more than 20 years of experience.

Last week, the government announced a seven-point initiative to limit the number of mainland women giving birth in the city.

But the male agent told Chan the initiatives "were just under discussion, there is nothing concrete yet".

He added: "If you want your baby to become a Hongkonger, you should arrange a package with us as soon as possible."

According to a brochure provided by Chan, the agency offered birth packages between 11,800 yuan and 39,800 yuan, excluding the fees paid to the hospital and the doctor but including transport, the cost of the passport application and short-term accommodation after the delivery.

The Private Hospital Association earlier denied any form of co-operation with mainland agencies.

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